AMBOY — It wasn’t business as usual at the Amboy City Council meeting held on July 17. The community center was near capacity with concerned citizens who came out in solidarity to let their voices be heard on their objections to the proposed cell phone tower to be erected and placed near Blackstone Street and El Vista properties.
The first resident that stepped up to the podium to speak was Jake McCoy. He said that he had reached out to the city council on a number of occasions with very little response. He went on to say that the tower has been in the works since last April and emphatically asked the council to write letters to Springfield, and the Lee County Board, who has the final say. Longtime resident Gary Wilhelm got up and expressed the lack of research over health concerns that the tower could bring and that “they” don’t want it in their backyard.
Amboy City Attorney Matt Keegan patiently listened to the resident’s frustrations and calmly attempted to explain the laws that are in place. He began by stating that the city of Amboy has zero jurisdictions for this project because it is outside of the city corporate limits. He continued saying that nothing has been formally submitted and once an application has been filed for a special use grant, the city can send an objection to the county as a political matter but ultimately, the county has the control and can disregard it.
McCoy spoke up again and said that the citizens want something in writing before; because it’s tough to stop the ball from rolling once it gets going.
Amboy Alderman Brandon Klein then spoke on behalf of the council and said that a resolution would be on the next city council meeting agenda to formulate a letter of objection to the county, which brought a thunderous applause from all in attendance.
Keegan added that once submitted, it will take the county some time to analyze it and submit it to the Amboy City Council which gives them ample time to put a letter together at the next month’s scheduled meeting.
In other news, State Representative Brad Fritts got up, introduced himself and briefly discussed how things have been going for the freshman representative since his swearing in. One item that he mentioned was the Local Government Distributive Fund that provides funding to cities and towns throughout the state has been “sadly” reduced this year as a result of the ruling party in Springfield finding other ways to allocate funds.
Next, Amboy Mayor John Schamberger said that after months of silence from Amereso for the Biogas project, the property is scheduled to close on July 24. After all of the legal zoning requirements are taken care of, Amereso hopes to break ground before winter.
The continued next steps for wind turbines coming to the area were discussed. Windmills are treated differently as a result of special legislation that allows the city of Amboy to regulate a permitted zone for the windmills. Schamberger displayed a map of Amboy, highlighted in yellow of the actual city and surrounding area. The way the ordinance is currently drafted, it pushes the area to be a mile from the city limits. The city will have to decide what area and location is best suited in order to protect city residents.
The meeting was wrapped up with the approval of a liquor license for a new business in town Uncle B’s Bar & Grill. Brian Ehlert was hired as a part-time Police Officer, and Delaney Wilhem was hired for part-time summer help.